“Banana Pudding.” I replied. “Apparently it’s a Southern thing.”
“Banana Pudding?? Like seriously? That’s it?”
He was, I think, expecting something grander from this beauty queen. “Banana Magic” or “Banana Bliss” would be more fitting.
Humble in name, but huge in flavor, this dessert is adapted from a recipe I spied while perusing the archives at Food 52. Essentially it’s a trifle – layers of homemade banana pudding, whipped cream, sliced bananas, and crumbled vanilla wafers. Easy and economical enough for a weeknight treat, this little number has plenty enough charm for a fancier occasion.
I learned the pudding here is a riff on a Southern favorite, albeit updated and without the j-e-l-l-o. In classic Canadian form, I grew up way too far north of the border to have ever heard of it. But 28 years later, I’ve finally realized what I’ve been missing…better late than never, right?
Makes 4 medium-large servings or 6 small servings.
The version here is half the original size – since this pudding is really best the day it’s made (no one wants to eat day old sliced bananas), I would try to avoid leftovers.
Also, the original called for a vanilla bean – I opted for a little butter + extract here instead because there’s so much flavor from the bananas and nutmeg already, and also I was feeling a little stingy….
For the Banana Pudding
- 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp cornstarch
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 25 vanilla wafer cookies (Nilla wafers), crumbled
- 3 large ripe bananas
- Freshly grated nutmeg (Don’t skip this! Nutmeg brings out the best of a banana’s flavor somehow. A match made in heaven. Or the tropics, as the case may be.)
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, sugar, salt, and egg. Meanwhile, bring the milk to a boil in a small sauce pan. Slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking well as you go. Return the mixture to the heat and cook over low, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the pudding thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract and butter – mix until the butter melts. Transfer to a wide shallow dish, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until very cold, about 30 minutes.
When the pudding is cool, whip the cream to soft peaks. Gently fold in half the whipped cream into the pudding – do this in two parts.
Peel and mash one banana lightly with a folk. Gently fold this into the pudding mixture also. Set aside.
Place the crumbled wafer cookies in a bowl and grate over a little nutmeg. Set aside.
Thinly slice the remaining 2 bananas.
Set out 4 medium or 6 small glasses. Add a small layer of cookies to each glass. Top with a layer of pudding, a layer of whipped cream, and then a few sliced bananas. Repeat.
Garnish with a few extra wafer crumbs.